samedi, décembre 09, 2006
Even if....you don't love me anymore
I've had occasion recently to grapple with what it means to forgive a friend for behavior that, at least in my own rather warped perception, has been deeply hurtful to me over a period of years. "Tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner"-or so goes the French aphorism. The quotation is attributed to Madame de Stael-who perhaps would be shocked to find her words twisted into a French caricature. What she apparently said is "Tout comprendre rend tres indulgent"... understanding everything makes one more indulgent. I have found that my characterological, quite human ability to draw reasonable conclusions about someone else's behavior-how it fits their character, their limitations, their virtues-only gets me so far. For years I have tried to rationalize my friend's actions as a prompted by a general aversion to conflict, desire for consensus, and hope to be able to please all sides. Yet when a recent encounter left me feeling bruised and battered once again, I found that my great wisdom and soi-disant objectivity was nothing more than a band-aid. Underneath, the wound still festered. I wanted nothing more than to be done with the relationship-as though the reckoning between us had been too long deferred and was now out of the realm of the possible. The "Don Henley" school of forgiveness, articulated in his song "The Heart of the Matter", still often works well for me. "There are people in your life who have come and gone-they've let you down, you know, they've hurt your pride...You better put it all behind you babe, 'cause life goes on...if you carry all that anger, it will eat you up inside..." I do find that carrying around resentment and bitterness is a huge waste of time. On purely practical grounds, the act of forgiveness, of setting aside, is a useful strategy. Yet even that doesn't always do the trick. Sometimes the pain of the broken intimacy hits too close to the center of my being. But as I wrestle with my own pain, I remember the words of Jesus and his command to forgive brothers and sisters seventy plus seven, or seven times 70. C'mon, Lord, you can't mean that I have to keep forgiving the same brother or sister? How about you look at my overall record-kind of a spiritual RBI? And if I'm supposed to forgive this dude (again), then does it mean I have to be his or her pal? Or can healing really occur without relationship to the other? As you can probably tell, in spite of all the reading I've done and Jesus' command in the Gospels, I'm now where near figuring this trying problem out. Most definitely a work in progress..wholly in need of grace.